Enterprise credibility at startup speed: Innovation with Ollion
Ollion is helping to deliver innovation at the enterprise level. However, innovation is not neat and tidy. It requires unstructured thinking and a willingness to rethink core assumptions. We're reaching toward innovation on all fronts, all the way to open-sourcing our consulting methodologies and frameworks.
Vishal Parpia, Chief Digital Officer
When my co-founder and I started working on what became CloudCover in 2008, “the cloud” was new and bleeding-edge. We loved the concept of software controlling hardware and believed in it enough to bet on its future success.
Back then, the huge companies now synonymous with the cloud were the new kids on the block. Early cloud partners were usually resellers who saw cloud computing as another hardware vendor partnership. Only a handful of technologists on the planet foresaw the enormous impending change in our industry and applied the cloud to their business with fresh eyes. At the time, simply our ability to do so was sufficient to differentiate ourselves. The concepts were so alien to most companies that most of our work revolved around proving it was possible to use the cloud for “real work.”
By the time ST Telemedia invested in CloudCover in 2020, our business had grown and the market had matured to the point where the cloud was no longer a novelty but formed the foundation of a modern tech strategy. As the platforms developed, our focus shifted to containers and cloud-native stacks while still being heavily tied to engineering and tech outcomes.
CloudCover is now a part of our new company, Ollion, along with 2nd Watch, Aptitive and Cloud Comrade. However, the world has changed yet again. The cloud has grown to encompass absolutely any technology, from the humble VM to the open-source triumph of Kubernetes, from artificial intelligence to quantum computing. AWS alone has more than 200 services that customers can choose from.
The need of the hour is now not just chasing the newest thing but a more considered, practical approach to applying all this incredible technology.
What does IT mean today?
IT went from needing to manage physical infrastructure to everything living in the cloud in a heartbeat. COVID and remote work were the collective final straw. Everything is software, SaaS or software-driven and on-demand except for the computing devices employees use. Add to this the importance of technology in an organization’s ability to innovate, the value of data in making good decisions and the enormous wave of AI sweeping enterprises, and it is evident that IT’s role has already changed.
Technology has been democratized, and IT can no longer be the gatekeeper. The very best IT organizations have already shifted to being innovation enablers. They have evolved into providers of acceleration platforms that the entire enterprise can leverage.
Ollion has a big part to play in helping IT deliver innovation in service of business units within the enterprise through a combination of practical consulting and software-enabled acceleration platforms. It’s our ability to diagnose and define business problems and opportunities, enable the tech, and change agendas to achieve goals that sets us apart from others.
Enabling innovation in an enterprise is no easy task. As companies succeed and grow, they start optimizing their structure and operations to be better at what makes them successful. Large industries also tend to be more regulated and must be very methodical and meticulous in their workflows to meet compliance and governance requirements.
Innovation, however, is not neat and tidy. It requires unstructured thinking and a willingness to rethink core assumptions about a business. Adaptability is the crucial attribute, an ability to pivot direction based on customer feedback and market dynamics.
CloudCover's prior focus on the latest technologies gave us some of the hottest and fastest-growing startups as clients, and we learned what it truly takes to innovate at scale and rapidly adapt to customer needs. Using these learnings, we’ve been building accelerators, methodologies and platforms (AMP for short) that try to bring some of that tech unicorn magic to the enterprise. Relying heavily on the excellent work done within Gene Kim’s DevOps Enterprise Summit, AMP brings our flavor of flow engineering to market.
Core to this work is the understanding that, most of the time, the specific technology in use rarely affects the outcome. What does make an impact is the cost of change. The thing that startups excel at is the speed of iteration. It’s not that they magically have the answer to every problem, but by placing the customer at the center of a tight feedback loop, they’re able to rapidly iterate their product to meet the needs of their customers.
Larger enterprises have way more work to do before changing anything customer-facing. The “cost” of each iteration is so high that things slow down. Compliance needs to sign off, security needs to check everything, the infrastructure team needs to deal with resiliency and availability requirements, finance requires budgetary approval, and so on.
Ollion’s AMP provides an opinionated and practical set of processes, platforms and tools that remove as much friction as possible from the innovation process. They are purpose-built for enterprise needs and don’t shy away from the necessary governance; instead, they focus on repeatedly meeting those needs through software and composable patterns for applications, data and AI. The aim is to reduce the cost associated with a high rate of change to rapidly adapt to the end customer.
We also intend to extend our frameworks to encompass the people side of the business, outlining how to structure and incentivize innovating teams to remove unintended friction and reset operating models initially designed for a different business model.
Keeping things open
One of Ollion’s core corporate values is “open by default,” which applies most obviously to open-source software. We are committed to contributing to and fostering the community around the technology we believe in. However, we also think there is untapped value in open-sourcing our consulting methodologies and frameworks.
Open-source software often wins because of the rapid iteration of ideas that occurs thanks to thousands of concurrent developers’ contributions. There is no reason why the same could not apply to consulting methodologies. If others find value in our work and agree with our point of view, they will either contribute to it and make it better for all, use it for themselves and validate our point of view, or ask us to work with them to achieve those outcomes within their businesses. All of those are wins for us.
We have proof points that this will work thanks to our work with financial services-specific landing zones, and we are keen to extend that out more broadly within our business.
All in on Ollion
Is all of this ambitious? Audacious? A little crazy? Perhaps. But that’s our DNA. When CloudCover started, we instituted an attitude of: We can do it. We are boutique. We bring something different to this industry. Change is inevitable.
Now, as Ollion, we’re taking on an absolute behemoth: the professional consulting industry. But just as we believed that change was inevitable for IT, we also think this lumbering giant needs to change.
These days, we aren’t the only ones who understand the cloud. Lots of firms are at that cutting edge. But the problem has shifted from just technology to delivering genuine business value. Enterprises need the acceleration technology can provide, but the IT organization must rise to the challenge. Today’s economy demands outcomes that drive financial results, not another vanity AI project.
The first test of AMP is how efficiently we can rapidly iterate our own business to meet the changing needs of the modern enterprise. In the spirit of openness, I will tell you: We haven't quite got that down to a science yet. But that's one of the things that we’re betting on as we become Ollion. I’m going all in.